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Roomen, Andriaan van

1. Dates
Born: Louvain, 29 Sept. 1561
Died: Mainz, 4 May 1615 He died in travel, as he returned from Würzburg to Louvain.
Dateinfo: Dates Certain
Lifespan: 54
2. Father
Occupation: Merchant
Same name, a merchant.
No indication of financial status.
3. Nationality
Birth: Belgian
Career: Belgain, German, Polish
Death: German
4. Education
Schooling: Louvain; M.A., M.D.
He studied at the Jesuit College in Cologne.
One source says that he studied medicine at Louvain and then somewhere in Italy (no university mentioned), where he completed an M.A. and M.D. It appears obvious from his career that he had an M.D., and thus the story appears plausible. I assume a B.A. or its equivalent.
5. Religion
Affiliation: He had to have been Catholic.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: Mathematics
Subordinate: Natural Philosophy, Astronomy, Medicine
In Würzburg, where he was a professor of medicine and where he really created the medical faculty in a new university, he published a continuing series of medical theses defended by his students. They are all wholly traditional, and there is no indication at all that Roomen contributed to medical science. A prolific author, Roomen wrote also on astronomy and natural philosophy. As with medicine, his opinions in these fields were wholly traditional. After some thought, I list the three as subordinate disciplines.
As a mathematician he was especially concerned with trigonometry. He calculateds the sides of the regular polygons, and from the polygon with 216 (?) sides calculated the value of pi to sixteen places. He also wrote a commentary on algebra.
7. Means of Support
Primary: Medicine, Academia, Church Life
Secondary: Schoolmastering, Patronage
1586-92, Professor of medicine and mathematics (sic) at Louvain. He was Rector in 1592.
I am assuming that Roomen, like all professors of medicine, also practiced.
1593-1603, Professor of medicine at University of Würzburg. Three times he was Deacon of the medical faculty.
1596-1603, mathematician to the chapter in Würzburg; his duties included drawing up a calendar each year.
1598, in Prague where Rudolph apparently bestowed on him the titles of Count Palatine and Imperial Court Physician (a title that entailed no duties). He was called back to Prague several times.
1603-10, lived both in Würzburg and Louvain, in ill health. At the end of 1604 he was ordained a priest and installed as a canon in the chapter in Würzburg. It appears that he held the prebend until his death.
1610-12, taught mathematics to Jan Zamojski, son of the statesman and aristocrat, Thomas Zamojski.
8. Patronage
Types: Unknown, Court Official, Eccesiastic Official, Aristrocrat
Nothing is said about his first appointment in Louvain, but no university chair was gained without patronage.
Roomen's wife was the niece of the Prince-Bishop of Würzburg; Biographie nationale says that she was the niece of the physician to the prince-bishop, and seems to suggest that the marriage took place after he arrived in Würzburg. Whatever the connection, without the patronage of the Prince- Bishop his whole relation to Würzburg is unintelligible.
Roomen dedicated some of his many works to the Archduke Albert.
See details above for the other one.
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Math
Roomen's work in mathematics was heavily, almost exclusively, in the direction of practical calculation.
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
He corresponded with a considerable number of the mathematicians and scientists of his day; the correspondence is now mostly lost. Early in his career he established a connection with Ludolph van Ceulen. He was acquainted with the Polish mathematicians Jan Brozek, with whom he corresponded.
  1. Nationaal biografisch woordenboek, 2, (Brussels, 1966), cols. 751- 65. This is a Belgian publication.
  2. Biographie nationale. This sketch has very full information about Roomen's publications.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

Note: the creators of the Galileo Project and this catalogue cannot answer email on geneological questions.

©1995 Al Van Helden
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